Times Chronicle & Public Spirit
Verna Dietrich turns 90 at blockbuster birthday party
The Dietrich family pulled out all the stops in celebration of the 90th birthday of its beloved matriarch, Verna Dietrich.
The grounds of the Kempton Community Center took on the aura of an outdoor movie theater in what was billed as a “Spectacular Drive-In Fireworks Display” on the evening of March 13.
An estimated 600 vehicles with about 1,500 people turned out for the over-thetop birthday celebration.
The crowd rivaled that of the Kempton Fair and the annual consignment sale, the two largest events held at the Albany Township fairgrounds.
Flanked by five postersized photos on the building, Verna waved to well wishers from an alcove at the entrance to the community center.
Leading up to a 15-minute fireworks display, visitors were entertained by a video of Verna’s 90-year life journey with audio transmitted on their vehicle’s radio.
Narrated by entertainer (and Mountain Folklore columnist) Dave Kline, “Verna Through The Decades” traces landmark events in a remarkable life that began on a Perry Township farm on March 13, 1931.
Educated in one-room schoolhouses, Verna rose from a forelady in a Hamburg garment factory to founder, with her late husband Willard, of Dietrich’s Meats & Country Store in Krumsville.
Married in 1952, Verna and Willard ran a farm, tended a huckster route, started a stand at Renninger’s Farmers Market in Kutztown and opened
the country store in 1975. All that, while raising three sons, Glenn, Lynn and Marlin.
In another video, posted on YouTube, Verna is lauded by friends, associates and personalities.
Kline, a former WEEU
Radio and Reading Eagle Company executive, celebrated Verna’s “homespun charm” expressed in radio commercials she made over the years.
Berks County historian George M. Meiser IX sang “Happy Birthday.” So did
the gang from Trainer’s Midway Diner in Bethel Township.
Author, folklorist and chronicler of haunted tales Charles Adams III told Verna she’s “one heck of a woman who means so much to so many people.” And, WFMZ-TV news anchor
Kathy Craine said Verna “epitomizes a work ethic from a bygone era.”
Those who attended Verna’s birthday party didn’t go home empty handed.
Courtesy of Dietrich Meats, they took along a snack box filled with Dietrich’s smoked meats and
cheese, Kutztown soda, Premise Maid candy and Dieffenbach potato chips.
And, as a keepsake, a bottle of wine from Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery with a custom label made up of milestone photos from the life of Verna Emma Leiby Dietrich.